For fans of Black Rock Studios, change is now in the wind with the confirmed departure of two of the major players from the studio. Game Director Nick Baynes, most recently known for directing Split/Second, and senior producer Ian Monaghan are confirmed as no longer with the company. According to our sources, both were affected by the last round of layoffs at Black Rock by parent company, Disney.
Baynes and Monaghan are forming a new studio to be called RoundCube Entertainment. Baynes will be heading up RoundCube, with Monaghan serving as the director of development. RoundCube has not yet confirmed what their first project with be.
As for Black Rock, about 30 developers remain at the studio and are working on a project that we believe is Disney Universe. If true, Disney Universe is a major departure from a studio that has been best known for racing titles. We have also been told that around 100 employees at Black Rock were hit with layoffs as part of the Disney restructuring.
Regarding RoundCube, we have heard some whispers that it is possible that some sort of IP purchase agreement has been reached that will see RoundCube work on a sequel to Split/Second, which had just started pre-production prior to Disney pulling the plug on the sequel. While this is just a rumor, it would be very interesting to see what RoundCube could do on their own with the rights to both the Split/Second and Pure IP.
With a different publisher quarterbacking the marketing effort for RoundCube, the outcome could be quite different from that of Black Rock with Disney Interactive. Currently, we hear that RoundCube is talking to several publishers, but no publishing deal has yet been reached.